For those of us who just can’t wait to get our hands dirty in the garden, there’s no need to sit patiently until the end of the month. There are several cool-season plants that can go in the ground now.

Cool season plants include potatoes, salad greens, onions, peas, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Here are some specifics on some varieties you can start now.


Grown not from traditional seeds, but seed tubers, potatoes can be planted as early as the soil warms, usually in April or early May. Purchase your seed tubers (often called “seed potatoes”) from a certified seed distributor or grower. The seed potatoes contain “eyes” which are actually dormant buds from which new plants will sprout. Cut the seed potatoes into egg-sized portions with 1-3 eyes in each piece. Do the cutting at least a day before you plant to allow the pieces to dry and form a disease-resistant surface. Prepare your beds by adding compost or well-rotted manure to your soil. If you prefer, try a growing bag, specifically sized for potatoes. Fill the bag with a container soil mix specifically for vegetables. Plant the seed pieces cut side down, 10-12 inches apart and 3-5 inches deep. (In a growing bag, begin with only a few inches of soil in the bag, and then plant your seed tubers). If you desire smaller potatoes, you can space the pieces closer together. Planting them farther apart will give you larger, but fewer potatoes. Cover the seeds with 4 inches of soil. As the potatoes sprout and grow, they form the tubers on stems that will emerge from the main stem. These stems need to be kept out of sunlight, so as they grow, you will need to place hills of soil along the stem. Begin hilling the soil around plants when the stems are about a foot tall. Repeat as needed once or twice during the season. By harvest time you should have 6-8 inches of soil along the plants. Water thoroughly after planting and continue watering throughout the season (one inch per week).


Onions and other allium plants like leeks require a long growing season in this area. If grown from seeds, you would have needed to start the seeds indoors in late January or February. However, many growers sell transplant seedlings that can be planted outdoors in late April. After purchasing your plants, soak the roots in a shallow pan of water and plant them within a few days. In your well-prepared beds, place them 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart. Clip the tops off to 5 inches or so. This will prevent the plant from drying out while the roots are being established. Water thoroughly. You can also purchase onion “sets,” which should be planted 1-2 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart.

Salad greens

Plant the seeds for salad greens as soon as the ground is warm and workable. Choose a sunny site with good moisture retention. Because the plants grow quickly, planting several times during the season will guarantee a continuous supply of greens. Work the garden beds 6 inches deep. If the soil is compacted the plants will not absorb enough water and oxygen to grow well. Greens do exceptionally well in raised beds, due to increased drainage and less compaction. This elevated example, makes it easy to harvest your greens without having to bend and stoop. The seeds for these plants tend to be very small, so most will require thinning of the rows as they grow. Plant your seeds based on the depth and spacing listed on the packet. Water thoroughly.


A cool weather crop, peas can be planted in late April and early May. Plant the seeds in well-prepared soil, worked to a depth of 6-7 inches, or in a raised bed. Your seeds will grow better if soaked in water for an hour or so before planting. Follow the directions on the package for spacing and planting depth. Water thoroughly. As peas grow, they will require support. A vegetable trellis like this supports the plants while making them easier to harvest.

Cole crops

These hardy plants need a space where they can get large quantities of soil nutrients and water. Again, raised beds are ideal because the soil can be easily amended and drainage is improved. Purchase transplants from your local grower, or plant seeds 3 weeks before the date of last frost. Follow planting directions according to the seed packet. As they grow, thin plants as needed to allow growth. If you are planting transplants, make sure plants have been “hardened off”, meaning that they have been gradually exposed to outdoor sun and temperature before exposing to the elements.

Beets, carrots and radishes

Root crops like these require fluffy, worked soil with no compaction. They do especially well in raised beds, which allow the vegetables to grow straighter. Sow the seeds now, according to spacing and depth of seed packets. Water thoroughly, and thin plants as they emerge. Radish varieties include some that produce in as little as 3 weeks, so try several varieties with different maturity rates. Beets and carrot seeds now come in several colors and sizes, so have a little fun by trying one of the new varieties this year.

Your Fleet Farm Garden Center has hundreds of varieties of seeds, plus all the tools and accessories you’ll need to begin your gardening adventure. We look forward to seeing you there soon!